It is hiking season in Nelson! The crisp air beckons us outside. I beckoned my kids for a hike on White Rock trail recently. We geared up; my daughter had my trekking poles and my son and I each used one pole from an older set that I have. We hiked the trail in less time with ease which I attribute to my kids using the poles. The use of trekking poles with walking is also termed “Nordic Walking” referring to cross country skiing. It is common to see backpackers using them. The values are many and the investment is worth it.
Using poles involves the upper body and arms while walking that increases calorie expenditure and offers more of a whole body workout. It enables a taller posture which improves breathing capacity allowing the lungs to have more expansion room. It decreases joint stress on the knees, hips and lower back which enables new exercisers to start a walking program and others to walk longer with less pain. It decreases effort and increases your balance climbing and descending hills. Best of all, you are working with less perceived effort, meaning your body is doing more work but it doesn’t seem like that to your brain. This is beneficial for folks with arthritis, fibromyalgia and other ailments that may inhibit them from exercising. It helped my kids hike without falling as it offered balance on rocky terrain and they walked with less perceived physical effort.
Trekking poles also improve your confidence while walking. Lack of confidence in walking is a risk factor for falls among seniors that leads to an increase in falls, increase in hip fractures and subsequently a sedentary lifestyle. One of my clients who has a history of polio started using the poles a year ago to help with walking and balance. She informed me that her walking is so much better now- even when she is not using the poles. What occurred was a carryover from her training into function so she now has more confidence and strength to pick up her legs when she walks without the poles.
Trekking poles are available at sporting goods stores, outdoor stores and online. The prices range from $20 to $160. I recommend investing in poles that are lightweight and telescope down to a small length so that you can pack them on a trip. Happy trekking!